What do we know about the Justice League movie so far?

News Simon Brew 6/17/2013 at 8:34AM

With Warner Bros likely to press ahead with Justice League now that Man Of Steel has hit big, what do we know about the current state of it?

Now that Man Of Steel has proved itself a massive box office hit, Warner Bros might just be about to press ahead with its long-planned Justice League project. It's little secret that that the studio has tried several times to get Justice League moving in one form or another, but with Warner Bros now buoyed by the rejuvenation of big screen Superman, the odds of it happening have  considerably shortened. That's what a $100m+ opening weekend at the US box office does for you.

So what do we actually know about this current attempt to get Justice League going? Here are the clues thus far...

Superman and Batman will be in it

We'll start with something so basic, so assumed, that nobody even asks the question. Justice League will feature Superman and Batman, the two biggest box office draws in the DC library. It's long been a problem for DC that it doesn't have any character anywhere close to the popularity of those two, and unlike Marvel, it's found it nigh-on impossible to introduce fresh characters through big blockbusters. Ask any Warner Bros accountant, and they'll tell you that Green Lantern still stings.

The inclusion of Superman and Batman does present a problem of sorts for Warner Bros. Unlike Marvel, it's never had two of its comic book franchises on fire at the same time. So, whilst Marvel went into The Avengers with Iron Man, Captain America and Thor all established firmly at the box office at the right moment, Warner Bros now has an active Superman franchise, and a recently retired Batman one. To get the latter up and running, there's got to be a risky reboot of the character done there. Which leads us to...

It'll be a different Batman/Bruce Wayne

David S Goyer confirmed to us last week that it'll be a different Bruce Wayne in the world of Man Of Steel and Justice League. That he does exist in that world, but not in the shape of Christian Bale.

Warner Bros' presumed route is that it'll reintroduce Batman in a less risky way, as part of a Justice League ensemble, before pressing ahead with a full reboot. That's not definitely the case though: it may yet opt for the reboot first, but it it gets that wrong, then Justice League may be back to square one. One thing is certain: rebooting Batman for the big screen is arguably the biggest challenge facing DC and Warner Bros right now. Bigger even than the Justice League project itself.

Zack Snyder and David S Goyer are in pole position to make it

Now that Man Of Steel has hit cinemas with the biggest June opening of all time in the US, Warner Bros can breathe out. And it puts director Zack Snyder and writer David S Goyer in a position of strength.

Again, Goyer told us that he and Snyder had discussed Justice League while making Man Of Steel. In his words, "it would be disingenuous to say that Zack and I haven't had various conversations on set, around 'what if' and 'moving forward'", when we specifically asked him about Justice League.

He added that "it's all going to depend on the next few weeks", indicating that the box office returns for Man Of Steel would determine where Warner Bros went next, and who it involved. Barring a massive collapse in box office takings over the next week, it now firmly seems as though Justice League is Snyder's and Goyer's project, should they want it.

Will Beall's script has been abandoned

Not much of a surprise this, but it's now been fully confirmed. Will Beall had been penning a screenplay for Justice League, but that script has now been fully abandoned. As Goyer, again, told us, "it would be a blank slate" were he to take on the project, as is widely expected.

Announcements on further characters are expected shortly

This came from an interview earlier in the summer. Back in April, Warner Bros president Jeff Robinov, who bet heavily on Zack Snyder for the Superman reboot, told Entertainment Weekly that "we’ll announce something in the next several weeks that will hopefully position the DC characters and the movies we’re going to be making".

Assuming that he was hedging his bets until Man Of Steel was released (and notwithstanding rumours about just how cemented Jeff Robinov is in his job at Warner Bros), it would be likely that those announcements are coming very soon now. As such, the likely bets are that a formal Justice League and Man Of Steel 2 announcement is coming. But might this also be the moment where we get the first hints of the next standalone DC movie too? Surely The Flash in particular and Wonder Woman have to be somewhere near the front of the queue...

There are clues in the Man Of Steel Easter eggs

Going through Man Of Steel, there are some clues for the eagle-eyed that may point towards what Zack Snyder and David S Goyer have planned for Justice League. The LexCorp vans at the least suggest that Lex Luthor is arriving for Man Of Steel 2, but we wouldn't rule him out of being a Justice League foe either. There was also, we're told, a very brief mention of Wayne Enterprises in Man Of Steel (in the form of a satellite). Furthermore, S.T.A.R. Labs gets a mention, which suggests a link to Cyborg appearing in the Justice League ensemble.

It has little chance of being ready for 2015

If we go with the idea that David S Goyer is to get the job of penning Justice League, even if he secretly started writing it months ago, there's little chance of turning round the movie Warner Bros needs by the originally planned 2015 release date. After all, Warner Bros has to first and foremost decide when it wants Man Of Steel 2, which may prove to be top priority. If it does order that first, then Goyer and Snyder are the incumbents there, and likely to make that first. That would push Justice League back even further.

But even if it wants Justice League first, this is a major, major challenge for the studio. It would need to be shooting the movie at the start of 2014 to get a summer 2015 release, and with only Henry Cavill known of the cast, and with no finished screenplay that we know of, that's a tough ask. It'd be a tough ask if they started today. To leave it much longer would be damn near impossible, given the scale of what Warner Bros would want to turn around.

Our guess is that the quickest you'll see a Justice League movie now will be 2016.

And finally...

We should also note that there are two other DC projects in the works right now (that we know of) that may or may not end up having a Justice League link. Nikolaj Arcel is making Fables for Warner Bros, and Guillermo del Toro is circling Justice League DarkOur feeling at the moment is that these are independent projects, but don't be surprised if there's a crossover with at least one of them.

Inevitably, there's not much more than that known about Justice League at the moment. But there is a sense that it's moved a step closer this past weekend. As we hear more, we'll keep you posted.

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Disqus - noscript

i don't understand why they just don't incorporate the Nolan Batman into the "Nolan" Superman world? Is it because that makes too much sense?

Make JGL the new Batman. It already showed him in the cave at the end of TDKR so it would flow well with that last films ending and transition well into a JL movie without the need to reboot Batman.

Nolan did a great job making batman as the dark night and (Zach's) superman as the man of steel. I would guess he doesn't like the idea of mixing these two distinct characters into a single movie and potentially mess up the reputation of (Nolan's) original movies. I don't see how the dark night and the man of steel can get mixed into a single movie. It will definitely ugly and awkward.

Unfortunately, the reality is that Marvel's approach is a proven winner and it is unclear of working backwards (more or less) will have anywhere near the same success-- even if DC ultimately has the more iconic case of characters for its ensemble team that Marvel did.

I don't think that DC needs to reboot Batman to go forward with a JL movie. People know Batman's story and the "trilogy" of films was, of course, quite successful. But what do you do with Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern?

A JL film is also going to need a viable foe. The "massive army invasion" has, obviously, just been done. There are villains to use (Darkseid?) but it is, to be honest, hard to imagine who can A) be a threat to a group that includes Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, but B) be simple enough to quickly introduce.

Perhaps a Man of Steel 2 or Green Lantern reboot IS in order, where some powerful cosmic foe (or foes) can be set up-- maybe Cyborg Superman, or something. And then that foe can be presented in the JL film without the need for extensive background.

Point is, it seems like there is a lot of work that can only be solved by CAREFUL and THOUGHTFUL writing, and by patience.

We have never seen a version of Batman on film that would fit the Justice League version of Batman. Batman is the only member of The Justice League with no super powers and is only a member because he is like Sherlock Holmes and a military strategist rolled into one. Batman has skidded by using mostly brute force or simple logic.

Furthermore, JGL's character in TDKR was a DETECTIVE first. He used deduction a plenty, and his effectiveness completely hinged on his mental as opposed to physical prowess. I'd say, he could fit the mold of a JLA Batman easily (while watching the movie recently I couldn't stop thinking about this being the plan all along, to plant seeds for JLA with TDKR). Plus, I'm sure the story won't pick up right after TDKR, so we'll be introduced to a Batman that's been through more than a few tough situations, having learned a few lessons along the way and adapting/making fast improvements. Molded by his experiences. More efficient and resourceful than Wayne. The movie would only need to show him as Batman in action and back in the cave strategizing; no need to pretend to be Bruce Wayne by going to social functions and being smug.

We also don't know what Lucius' invented since. JGL is on record stating he'd play Batman if asked, so it's up to the studio now to actually follow through and make him an offer. He can also look the part, as illustrated by his last movie Don Jon, and is only two inches shorter than Cavill. Which shouldn't matter much but I've always perceived Superman being a little taller than Batman. So, how isn't this perfect casting?

I don't see why the poor Green Lantern would hinder another Green Lantern movie any more than Ang Lee / Eric Bana Hulk did not prevent Edward Norton's Hulk from doing well.

After Iron Man's "I want to talk to you about the Avenger initiative" teaser, we got Iron Man 2 (also introduced Black Widow), Captain America, Hulk and Thor (also introduced Hawkeye).....THEN we got the Avengers.

Do Man of Steel 2. Do a Wonder Woman movie the way Cap was done. Have someone in it reference "That freaky bat in Gotham". Do an updated GL movie and introduce the Flash somewhere inside. Then, do Justice League.

I don't understand why this is so difficult to envision. The template is there and it works.

Braniac as shown in Superman: Unbound would be an interesting villain to portend Darkseid the way Loki was used in the Avengers to portend Thanos. It's a big universe. There's always someone worse than the guy you're fighting. Even if that guy is Darkseid.

Geoff Johns is probably available and would be PERFECT to manage this kind of project.

They've already said the Gotham in Nolan's series doesn't exist within the DC universe. If it did, while Bruce was recuperating in that jail pit, Superman would have flown over, found the bomb, chucked it into the sun and defeated Bane.

Its always made me wonder if the Justice League ever would have seriously considered Batman to be in their ranks based on what he can actually do. Sure, he's a smart guy, but isn't everyone else as well? Is he really that much smarter than all the rest of the League sans him? He throws so many monkey wrenches into making the Justice League movie a reality.

I agree. The Marvel model works well on several levels. Its hard to see DC get it right without copying it somewhat. Honestly, one of the biggest problems is Superman. He's too damn powerful. The Avengers have some really strong heroes (Thor and Hulk being the strongest in my opinion), but even they have distinct weaknesses. What ails Superman? Kryptonite? His pacifist bent? Kinda hard to write a good story with a god even stronger than Thor in almost every way as part of a much larger team of virtual gods.. well, except Batman.

Maybe he can be in charge of the crime scene tape, evacuate the innocents, or bring refreshments to the rest of the Justice League.

The power scale is way off. Superman is a god. Batman is rich, combat-trained guy with some psychological issues. You can put them in the same world, but what are they supposed to do? Fight crime? Superman doesn't need Batman for anything.. at all.

The Batman in the comics (Justice League Batman) has access to alien technology and resources far greater than what is in Nolan's Batman. Nolan's Batman is pretty good, but nowhere near the same scale as Man of Steel's Superman.

Inherent problem.

In the comics and cartoons, Batman was offered the JL position but he turned it down, being part-time member instead.

they can still fill in Batman on where he left off, he could be scouting on other super heroes when he had all the cell phones tapped, and the next GL could be John Stewart. Batman is rich and knows the JL weakness.